Apple’s Boot Camp software lets you install Windows on a Mac so that you can choose between macOS and Microsoft’s operating system when you turn on the computer.
First introduced in 2006 when the first Mac computers with Intel chips arrived, Boot Camp’s days are numbered now that Apple is preparing to transition from Intel chips to its own ARM-based processors.
While macOS 11 Big Sur will support Boot Camp when the new operating system arrives this fall, the feature will only work on Macs with Intel chips. In the short term, that probably only means a few upcoming Apple laptops and desktops will be excluded. But since Apple has implied that it will eventually transition all of its computers to “Apple Silicon,” odds are that if you buy a new Mac a few years from now, it won’t support Boot Camp.
That said, Apple has promised that its computers will support virtualization technology. So you might not be able to reboot into Windows, but you may be able to run Windows (or Linux) apps within macOS by using a virtual machine or software like Parallels Desktop.
Overall, the decision to drop Boot Camp isn’t a huge surprise. Yes, Windows 10 can run on computers with ARM chips these days, but unless you buy an ARM-based laptop or tablet with Windows 10 pre-installed, there’s no official way to install the operating system yourself (despite many reports of people doing it unofficially).
And from Apple’s standpoint, there’s probably more downside than upside to letting you run Microsoft’s operating system on Apple’s hardware.
When Apple’s computers had the same Intel processors as PCs from rival companies, there wasn’t much downside to letting users install Windows. For years some folks insisted that the best Windows PC was actually a Mac.
But things look different with the move to ARM. As Apple prepares to launch the first Macs with Apple Silicon, the company already has a big lead over the competition. Benchmarks show that the chips used in recent iPhones and iPads outperform anything produced by Qualcomm, Samsung, Huawei, Mediatek, or other companies producing ARM chips for mobile devices. And since Apple makes both the hardware and software for its devices, it can make sure the operating system takes full advantage of the chips (and vice versa).
Odds are that even if you could install Windows on a Mac, it wouldn’t perform nearly as well as macOS. And that would probably tarnish both brands.
Update: The Verge reports that the issue may be entirely due to the way Microsoft licenses Windows 10 on ARM — it’s only available to device manufacturers and not end users. So there’s no way to buy a valid Windows 10 on ARM license and install it. But that’s not to say that it won’t ever happen in the future if Microsoft decides to change its licensing terms and/or works out some sort of arrangement with Apple.